The old Timex/Sinclair (ZX81 for the Europe folks) has always been somewhat of a fascination of mine, ever since having one as my very first computer back in 1981 (it was actually a ZX81, before Timex took over production in the States). Even though it was black and white, had rather crude graphics, and no sounds, this machine just rocked (at least for me it did). I learned to program on this computer, and just loved how easy it was to work with.
For years now, this T/S 1000 has been in the Underdog Chamber as part of the ‘music’ setup, where the Sinclair machine would run digitized iPod commercials while a nearby Mac computer ran music and music videos on and LCD display. For 2013, thanks in part to a newer ZXpand unit (from the UK), the plan totally changed for the T/S 1000. The ZXpand unit that was on display with the T/S 1000 had a joystick port and a sound chip. This made perfect sense to have in the U.C. room, along with some rather good games from Revival Studios, who have released over four new games for the old ZX81 (T/S 1000, etc.). That, and I found out that Mazogs and 3D Monster Maze – super classic games from the early 80’s – worked with the joystick interface on the ZXpand.
In a few prior years, trying to run games on the T/S computers just didn’t work well. For 2013 with the ZXpand and games that used a joystick, this changed how people interacted with this old computer. They actually played games on it, and the simple (and slightly sad) fact was because they could do so with an Atari joystick that was hooked up to it. Whatever works though, and Revival and a few old classic games got their moment in the sun during the show. While they did not fair as well as would have been liked in regards to game play, they did okay, which is much better than running games on the T/S 1000 did back in ’09 when I last tried that. 3D Monster Maze and Mayhem were the two most popular games on display during the weekend.
Simple put, the T/S 1000 – aka ZX81 – did good for the 2013 U.C. exhibit. The joystick interface was the key in getting people to sit down and try games on this old computer, but if it works, that is fine with me. This setup will probably return for 2014, as more games are coming out that use the ZXpand joystick and sound chip (and not just Revival Studios either – other people are programming new games too). Come back for the 2014 show to see what is up for the old Sinclair computer.
Timex/Sinclair 1000 (ZX81 popularity rating for 2013: C-